“Haykakan Zhamanak” describes as “sensational” the appointment of Manvel Badalian, a parliament deputy little known to the public, as chairman of the newly formed civil service council. The job was widely expected to be given to one of President Kocharian’s top loyalists. But Badalian has been “inconspicuous” even for journalists. Nor is he considered a leading member of the Miasnutyun faction. This prompts the paper to speculate that Kocharian may be intent on “changing his political entourage” before next year’s presidential elections.
“Hayots Ashkhar” quotes the deputy speaker of the parliament, Tigran Torosian, as saying that there will be more clarity in Armenia’s political landscape within two or three months as most leading parties will have ascertained their positions on constitutional reform and other key issues by that time. Political alliances currently taking shape are created with a view towards the 2003 elections, according to Torosian. But the vice-speaker stresses that blocs have not been long-lasting in Armenia, signaling that his Republican Party is unlikely to team up with other parties.
“Golos Armenii” says that during this “pre-election year” the authorities will be striving to avoid damaging scandals and expand the circle of loyal media. But the paper believes that “rosy promises” alone will not be enough to win over the electorate. And television channels’ impact on Armenian public opinion is very limited.
“Aravot” claims that the publication of preliminary results of the October census has been postponed indefinitely. The government had promised that the precise number of people living in Armenia will be known by March. It now cites a lack of computers and a delay in donor funding to justify the postponement. The paper claims that the authorities are interested in keeping the size of the country’s population under wraps. Inaccurate voter lists have enabled them to manipulate election results in the past.
“Azg” quotes unnamed diplomatic sources as saying that the United States will go to great lengths to achieve the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict before the
end of this year, before the 2003 elections in Armenia and Azerbaijan. The paper speculates that Washington is more concerned with ensuring presence of international peace-keeping forces in Nagorno-Karabakh than the establishment of a lasting peace.